This National Fried Chicken Sandwich Day, More than Half a Million Chickens Could Die for Popeyes
So, while Popeyes celebrates National Fried Chicken Day with catchy promotions, as many as 700,000 chickens could be subjected to horrific cruelty on factory farms for its latest effort in the chicken sandwich war.
When Popeyes launched its fried chicken sandwich in 2019 and ignited what is now dubbed the chicken sandwich war, it was reported that individual Popeyes restaurants sold 1,000 chicken sandwiches per day. Today, November 9, is a chicken-industry-invented day: National Fried Chicken Sandwich Day. While Popeyes rides its marketing wave and gives out free chicken sandwich deals, we sought to quantify the number of sentient beings enduring lives of agony only to end up as a celebrated menu item.
With over 2,800 locations in the US, if Popeyes’ latest marketing push brings sales comparable to the 1,000 sandwich purchases per store at launch, the chain could be selling upward of 2.8 million chicken sandwiches in a single day (that would be more than 1 billion chicken sandwiches a year!) Not considering all the other items on Popeyes’ menu made from chicken (such as nuggets, tenders, or wings), what does it take to produce this number of fried chicken sandwiches?
A Chicken Sandwich War with a High Cost to Animals
To maximize cost and efficiency, chickens farmed for meat have been cruelly bred to grow up to 6.46 pounds in 47 days—compared to three pounds in 84 days in 1945—causing them to suffer unbearable physical and emotional pain. Knowing that these chickens can yield about 20% breast meat, we can estimate that one 6.46-pound factory farmed chicken produces around 1.25 pounds of breast meat. Each Popeyes chicken sandwich contains roughly a third of a pound of chicken breast. So, one chicken’s life of incredible cruelty comes out to about four fast-food sandwiches.
So, while Popeyes celebrates National Fried Chicken Day with catchy promotions, as many as 700,000 chickens could be subjected to horrific cruelty on factory farms for its latest effort in the chicken sandwich war. These thinking, feeling individuals may be collapsing under the weight of their own bodies, suffering from broken bones and painful lesions, gasping for their last breath, or even staring at dead birds nearby whose hearts and lungs have already given out.
How many animals could be saved if Popeyes offered a plant-based chicken sandwich?
A recent poll found that 23% of Americans, the majority of which identify as “meat eaters”, have tried plant-based meat options at well-known fast-food restaurants and would continue ordering these options on subsequent visits. Using these survey findings as a gauge, if Popeyes were to add a plant-based chicken sandwich to its menu, what would happen if 23% of the 1,000 customers who usually order a Popeyes chicken sandwich opted for a plant-based version? Popeyes could replace 230 chicken sandwiches with plant-based ones at each store, and 161,000 chickens would be spared a life of suffering every day, totaling more than 58 million birds a year.
Of course, much of the above relies on assumptions, but we know that large restaurant chains can make a huge impact for animals and the planet by rebalancing their menus to prioritize plant-based proteins over animal-based ones. Many restaurant chains have readily embraced plant-based foods and started promoting meat-free versions of their most popular menu items, to better align their brands with customer values regarding animal welfare and environmental sustainability. For example, Burger King UK announced it was transitioning half of its menu to plant-based by 2030, while Starbucks US recently started testing six new vegan menu items in the US.